A fantastic collage of interview excerpts with people from Mississippi – the poorest and most conservative state of the USA. Money quote: “We’d rather go broke than give up our moral beliefs!”
Posts Tagged ‘conservatism’
Rightwing political activist, televangelist and former presidential candidate Pat Robertson (81) – a guy who is more conservative than the Dutch political parties of VVD, CDA, PVV and SGP combined times two, squared – has yesterday spoken out in favor of marihuana legalization.
That makes mr. Robertson – a Southern Baptist founder of, among others, the Christian Coalition and the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), and 1988 Republican Party candidate – more progressive than the current cabinet in the Netherlands and the parties supporting them.
Well, join the club, Pat. You’re in good company, as former liberal conservative statesman Frits Bolkestein (VVD), is also an ardent support of marihuana legalization.
His argument is as clear as it is simple: treat marihuana the way we treat alcohol. Since marihuana is less harmful than alcohol, it couldn’t be more straightforward than that, could it?
Of the many roles Pat Robertson has assumed over his five-decade-long career as an evangelical leader — including presidential candidate and provocative voice of the right wing — his newest guise may perhaps surprise his followers the most: marijuana legalization advocate.
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said in an interview on Wednesday. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”
Mr. Robertson’s remarks echoed statements he made last week on “The 700 Club,” the signature program of his Christian Broadcasting Network, and other comments he made in 2010. While those earlier remarks were largely dismissed by his followers, Mr. Robertson has now apparently fully embraced the idea of legalizing marijuana, arguing that it is a way to bring down soaring rates of incarceration and reduce the social and financial costs.
“I believe in working with the hearts of people, and not locking them up,” he said.
For his part, Mr. Robertson said he was “not encouraging people to use narcotics in any way, shape or form.” But he said he saw little difference between smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, a longstanding argument from far more liberal — and libertarian-minded — leaders.
“If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?” he said.
Mr. Franklin, who is a Christian, said Mr. Robertson’s position was actually in line with the Gospel. “If you follow the teaching of Christ, you know that Christ is a compassionate man,” he said. “And he would not condone the imprisoning of people for nonviolent offenses.”
The One Big Issue has just been inserted into the 2012 presidential election campaign: the Supreme Court will hear a case challenging Obama’s healthcare law. The decision – whether the healthcare reform act, specifically the individual mandate requiring all citizens to purchase healthcare insurance, is constitutional or not – will come in late June 2012, in the midst of the presidential campaign.
As blogged about earlier on here, the healthcare issue is the one big rallying point for conservatives against Obama. If the Supreme Court strikes it down, we may regard Obama’s presidential term as a failure. Moreover, if this Court strikes down the individual mandate as in violation of the Commerce Clause (which allows the federal government to regulate the economy), the floodgates are open. To put it bluntly, the entire regulatory and welfare structure in America as constructed since FDR’s 1930s then comes into jeopardy. It may become the end of the New Deal.
That’s of course the wet dream of every contemporary Tea Partier and Republican. So watch out, as the US economy may be catapulted back to the late 1700s by a conservative Supreme Court…
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a challenge to the 2010 health care overhaul law, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The development set the stage for oral arguments by March and a decision in late June, in the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign.
The court’s decision to step in had been expected, but Monday’s order answered many questions about just how the case would proceed. Indeed, it offered a roadmap toward a ruling that will help define the legacy of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Appeals from three courts had been vying for the justices’ attention, presenting an array of issues beyond the central one of whether Congress has the constitutional power to require people to purchase health insurance or face a penalty through the so-called individual mandate.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from just one decision, from the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, the only one so far striking down the mandate. The decision, from a divided three-judge panel, said the mandate overstepped Congressional authority and could not be justified by the constitutional power “to regulate commerce” or “to lay and collect taxes.”
The appeals court went no further, though, severing the mandate from the rest of the law.
On Monday, the justices agreed to decide not only whether the mandate is constitutional but also whether, if it is not, how much of the balance of the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, must fall along with it.
A brilliant piece in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas, appointed by George H. Bush, is arguably the most conservative Justice on the Court since the 1930s. He adheres to a very strict originalist and textualist reading of the Constitution, meaning that he believes it should be applied to the twenty-first century the way the Founders intended it for society in the late eighteenth century (whoever came up with this comically absurd idea should receive a prize). In addition to that, unlike the other textualist Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, Thomas has no qualm about ignoring precendent in court rulings: when he thinks a previous decision is wrong in his interpretation of the Constitution, he will overturn it. In Thomas’ case, this also means historically exploring how the inhabitants of the thirteen American colonies two-and-a-half century ago meant this or that piece of law.
Adhering to a very strict originalist interpretation of the Constitution means that you believe that only a very small, limited government is constitutionally allowed (just like it was intended back then). If if were up to justices like Thomas, the US government would have no business regulating anything in the American economy or society (although they have, of course, no qualms about executive branch overreach when it comes to military affairs or torture). This leads to predictable conservative positions on such issues as gun rights and federalism, but also – and here it comes – on healthcare. The Obama administration has relied on a ‘broad’ interpretation of the Commerce Clause, which by New Deal-era judicial interpretation has allowed the federal government to intervene in the (trans-state) economy, to mandate individuals to buy health insurance. But it is very much the question whether the current conservative Court, including Justice Thomas, will uphold this interpretation of the Commerce Clause. It is very much possible that Obama’s healthcare reform law will sometime soon be judged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Why is this piece on Clarence Thomas so relevant in this context? Well, because according to Toobin, Justice Thomas’ once extreme positions on various issues he has held since his 1991 confirmation have in the past twenty years become more mainstream. Take, for example, the gun rights issue. Among conservatives today, it is commonplace to argue that the lines in the Constitution about ‘the right to keep and bear arms’ apply to individuals, allowing personal gun rights. But just two decades ago (I didn’t know this), this was considered a radical position in a legal profession that held that the lines apply to state militias only, thus warranting more strict regulation on guns. It was Thomas who came up with the former interpretation, striking down Bill Clinton’s 1999 Brady Bill, and ever since, gun rights in the US have expanded. The same thing has happened on other issues: Thomas’ positions, at first considered radical, move the borders of the acceptable and allow judicial discourse to shift rightwards.
In the era that has seen the rise of the Tea Party out of protests against healthcare reform, the same thing could happen to Obama’s laws. Or, the piece warns, even more broadly to the entire 1930s New Deal-era constellation of laws and regulation that have awarded the federal government a role in protecting the people against the worst excesses of capitalism. Clarence Thomas and his wife are frequent speakers and ardent supporters of the Tea Party and other manifestations of extreme rightwing politics. These people want to take the economy back to the 1920s law of the jungle. In the words of Walter Russell Mead at the American Interest, their goal is to bring the Blue Empire down…
So read this must-read profile of Clarence Thomas to see why he has already been compared to Lord of the Rings’ Frodo – an overlooked actor slowly but steadily moving towards his goal, not taken seriously by his opponents until it is too late.
In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.
The conventional view of Thomas takes his lack of participation at oral argument as a kind of metaphor. The silent Justice is said to be an intellectual nonentity, a cipher for his similarly conservative colleague, Antonin Scalia. But those who follow the Court closely find this stereotype wrong in every particular. Thomas has long been a favorite of conservatives, but they admire the Justice for how he gives voice to their cause, not just because he votes their way. “Of the nine Justices presently on the Court, he is the one whose opinions I enjoy reading the most,” Steve Calabresi, a professor at the Northwestern University School of Law and a co-founder of the Federalist Society, said. “They are very scholarly, with lots of historical sources, and his views are the most principled, even among the conservatives. He has staked out some bold positions, and then the Court has set out and moved in his direction.”
The implications of Thomas’s leadership for the Court, and for the country, are profound. Thomas is probably the most conservative Justice to serve on the Court since the nineteen-thirties. More than virtually any of his colleagues, he has a fully wrought judicial philosophy that, if realized, would transform much of American government and society. Thomas’s views both reflect and inspire the Tea Party movement, which his wife has helped lead almost since its inception. The Tea Party is a diffuse operation, and it can be difficult to pin down its stand on any given issue. Still, the Tea Party is unusual among American political movements in its commitment to a specific view of the Constitution—one that accords, with great precision, with Thomas’s own approach. For decades, various branches of the conservative movement have called for a reduction in the size of the federal government, but for the Tea Party, and for Thomas, small government is a constitutional command.
In recent weeks, two federal courts of appeals have reached opposing conclusions about the constitutionality of the 2010 health-care law; the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, upheld it, while the Eleventh Circuit, in Atlanta, struck down its requirement that all Americans buy health insurance. This conflict means that the Supreme Court will almost certainly agree to review the case this fall, with a decision expected by June of next year. It is likely to be the most important case for the Justices since Bush v. Gore, and it will certainly be the clearest test yet of Thomas’s ascendancy at the Court. Thomas’s entire career as a judge has been building toward the moment when he would be able to declare that law unconstitutional. It would be not only a victory for his approach to the Constitution but also, it seems, a defeat for the enemies who have pursued him for so long: liberals, law professors, journalists—the group that Thomas refers to collectively as “the élites.” Thomas’s triumph over the health-care law and its supporters is by no means assured, but it is now tantalizingly within reach.
In verschillende media wordt de dader van de slachtpartij in Noorwegen, Anders Breivik, nog altijd ‘extreem’-rechts en christelijk-’fundamentalistisch’ genoemd. Dit gebeurt gelukkig steeds minder, naarmate het duidelijker wordt dat Breivik in principe een vrij doorsnee versie van de nieuw-rechtse ideologie van het afgelopen decennium aanhangt. Wat hij in het eerste deel van zijn manifest schrijft, is tegenwoordig tamelijk mainstream.
Gisteren heb ik een tijdje het 1500 pagina’s tellende boekwerk 2083 (pdf) zitten lezen. Eén van de dingen die gelijk opvalt is dat Breivik zich expliciet distantieert van wat normaliter bekend staat als extreem-rechts: het (neo-) nazisme en het fascisme. Hier wil hij helemaal niets mee te maken hebben. Breivik noemt zichzelf daarentegen voortdurend een ‘cultureel-conservatief’, soms een ‘conservatief-nationalist’, en doet moeite zich te onderscheiden van andere rechtse stromingen.
En het klopt: wie het manifest van Breivik leest, komt teksten tegen die niet verschillen van die al tien jaar gedebiteerd worden op GeenStijl, op de Dagelijkse Standaard, in Elsevier, in de Telegraaf, door de LPF, de PVV, en in toenemende mate ook binnen VVD en CDA. Breivik had lid van de Edmund Burke Stichting kunnen zijn, of de SGP-jongeren. Zo ziet hij er trouwens ook uit, met z’n blonde coup en Lacoste-truien. Breivik past naadloos binnen de opkomst van het ‘nieuwe conservatisme’ van de eenentwintigste eeuw.
Dit conservatisme is sterk ideologisch getint, en zoals iedere ideologie heeft het een eigen geschiedbeeld. Dat gaat als volgt: door heel Europa hebben linkse elites ter veiligstelling van gesubsidieerde baantjes massa-immigratie en islamisering in de hand gewerkt. De islam, bovendien, is uniform radicaal en gewelddadig. De linkse elites zijn dus eigenlijk landverraders.
Dit geschiedbeeld wordt in Nederland al een decennium lang consequent en stelselmatig verkondigd in rechtse media en blogs zoals GeenStijl, DDS, Elsevier en andere bovengenoemde. Ooit was het randdenken, een retorisch wapen van Pim Fortuyn tegen de Paarse regenten. Maar inmiddels is het een in steen gebijtelde ideologie worden, die fungeert als geloofsbrief voor wie serieus genomen wil worden ter rechterzijde. Lees maar eens een column van Martin Bosma, of sla eens een Telegraaf open. Echo’s ervan zijn zelfs terug te vinden in de speech van Maxime Verhagen. “Links” is verantwoordelijk voor alles wat fout is in dit land, en dat al sinds de jaren zestig; de multiculturele samenleving, massa-immigratie en islamisering zijn daar de belangrijkste consequenties van.
Dat het pure fictie is – er bestaat geen monolithische linkse elite die alle macht in handen heeft; CDA- en VVD-regeringen hebben evenzeer bijgedragen aan de massa-immigratie; met die demografische islamisering valt het reuze mee – doet er niet toe. Een ideologie is een gesloten systeem dat geen behoefte heeft aan nuanceringen.
Dus lezen we in 2083 zeer uitgebreid hoe de ‘linkse ideologie’ (in Breiviks woorden consequent ‘cultureel Marxisme’ genoemd) vanaf de jaren zestig de universiteiten, de wetenschap, de ambtenarij, de journalistiek en de politiek heeft overgenomen, vanaf de Frankfurter Schule tot de opkomst van gender studies, van de overname van publieke omroepen tot het invoeren van een vak als naaien op school. Er zijn volgens Breivik over heel Europa politieke partijen die niets liever willen dan de multiculturele samenleving invoeren. Dit zijn allemaal zaken die even goed door Bart-Jan Spruyt, Afshin Ellian, Joshua Livestro of Martin Bosma geschreven hadden kunnen zijn. Dit geschiedbeeld, ooit radicaal, is tegenwoordig gemeengoed op nieuw-rechts, en in toenemende mate ook op rechts.
Waar Breivik in verschilt met al deze mensen, uiteraard, is de gewelddadige consequenties die hij aan zijn ideologie verbindt. Waar het eerste deel van zijn boekwerk leest als een tamelijk complex en goed geïnformeerd verhaal (wel veel copy-paste), excelleert het tweede deel in wreedheid en gruwelijkheid. Hij beschrijft zonder veel omwegen hoe je het beste kunstmestbommen maakt, een Kevlar-harnas en wapens koopt; hoe politici, journalisten en wetenschappers vallen in Categorie A,- B,- en C-landverraders die je het beste en masse kunt vermoorden; welke muziek je daarbij het beste via je oordopjes kunt luisteren (vocal trance en epische Scandinavische muziek); hoeveel linkse verraders en moslims er per West-Europees land vermoord moeten worden, en dat je ook in staat moet zijn vrouwen, ‘zelfs aantrekkelijke’, te vermoorden. Dit alles in het kader van de heroprichting van de Tempeliers, als paramilitaire orde die West-Europa moet heroveren op de linkse multiculturele elites die het land ten koste van de eigen bevolking wil islamiseren.
“Anders kun je beter weer een nieuwe rechtse blog beginnen”, zo schrijft Breivik.
Het is duidelijk dat Wilders, noch de PVV, noch (nieuw-) rechtse opiniemakers of bloggers op enige wijze schuldig zijn aan de daden van deze figuur. Ze zijn ook niet verantwoordelijk. Maar door hun voortdurende, stelselmatige hameren op een gesloten ideologie, op een wereldbeeld dat aan elkaar hangt van ‘linkse elites’ en ‘multikul’, van ’EUSSR’ en ‘policor’ tot ‘dhimmitude’, zou je hen en hun eveneens door Breivik geciteerde internationale geestverwanten – van de Amerikaanse anti-islamblogster Pamela Geller tot de Lega Nord-parlementariër die Breiviks ideeën ”volkomen gezond” noemt - wel ‘indirect medeverantwoordelijk’ kunnen noemen. Want als iemand werkelijk gaat denken dat er een linkse elite bestaat die niets liever doet dan massa’s achterlijke moslims hierheen halen voor de eigen gesubsidieerde baantjes, ten koste van de eigen bevolking, dan is de stap naar gewapend verzet niet zo groot meer. Breivik beschrijft het zelf: pogingen het linkse en islamitisch gevaar democratisch tegemoet te treden hebben gefaald, en het is nu tijd om het met geweld te bestrijden, ter verdediging van het christelijke Europa.
Het maken en verspreiden van een ideologisch wereldbeeld als het nieuw-conservatisme is geen vrijblijvende bezigheid. Dat heeft een impact op de wereld, zeker wanneer daar in zulke duidelijk te identificeren zondebokken (de multiculturele elites en de moslims) worden aangewezen. Dat zouden rechtse opiniemakers, bloggers en politici zich moeten realiseren. Wanneer Wilders iets schrijft als dit:
Door heel Europa, niet alleen in Nederland, maar in heel Europa vechten de multiculturalistische elites een totale oorlog uit tegen hun bevolkingen. Met als inzet de voortzetting van de massa-immigratie en de islamisering, uiteindelijk resulterend in een islamitisch Europa – een Europa zonder vrijheid: Eurabië.
… en het daarbij heeft over de ‘Partij van de Allochtonen’ die ‘islamitisch stemvee’ naar Nederland haalt, en wanneer dat consequent herhaald wordt in online en papieren media, dan is het eigenlijk een wonder dat er door een gek nog geen aanslag is gepleegd op een partijcongres van de PvdA. Logisch toch, met zo’n apocalyptisch gevaar?
‘Guilt by association’? Nee, dit is niet de schuld van Wilders. Maar sommige opiniemakers, bloggers en politici zouden wel eens mogen kappen met het verspreiden van het kinderlijke wereldbeeld dat een almachtige linkse elite al een halve eeuw eigenhandig verantwoordelijk is voor het hierheen halen van volksstammen allemaal criminele én radicale moslims. Het is gewoon niet waar, and you know it. Hou ermee op.
Het debat over de multiculturele samenleving hoeft niet op slot. Je kunt discussiëren over de negatieve gevolgen van massa-immigratie, of over de inhoud van de islam. Maar stop ‘links’ neer te zetten als in essentie landverraders (of je die term nou letterlijk gebruikt of niet). Je delegitimeert daarmee niet alleen je tegenstander in het debat; je brengt ze ook in concreet, fysiek gevaar, zoals blijkt uit de slachting op een sociaal-democratisch partijevenement. De oproep van de Noorse koning – en het moet gezegd, ook van enkele bloggers op de Dagelijkse Standaard – tot meer beschaving, tot matiging is daarom een hele goeie. Voer gewoon een discussie, zonder de tegenstander af te schilderen op ideologische wijze.
- Edit 1: Het behoeft geen uitleg dat dit vanzelfsprekend ook geldt voor de linkerzijde in het debat. Het geldt voor iedereen.
- Edit 2: Sommige rechtse opiniemakers hebben er nog steeds niets van begrepen. Volgens Afshin Ellian is Anders Breivik alsnog een islamitische terrorist. En op GeenStijl laten ze hun ware aard zien: die van de grote pestkop op het schoolplein, die eenmaal betrapt alleen maar naar hunnie kan wijzen.
I’m pretty convinced that in the end, political attitudes are not determined based on rational choices or a weighing of evidence, but are derived from mentality, or ‘character’ (whatever that may be). You almost instinctively feel drawn to a certain strand of political thought, and have an inherent dislike to some others. I, for instance, am naturally freaked out by most versions of conservatism, particularly when they stress authority (and want to impose group beliefs). While I may have a lot of factual evidence or logical reasoning to ‘prove’ conservative or right wing prescriptions for society are wrong, ultimately it may come down to the fact that as a person, I don’t wish to be told what’s right by some group or authority, and value individual freedom and open-mindedness. That’s why I instinctively don’t like conservatism or ‘the right’.
But where does that come from? A while ago, we posted about cognitive neuroscientific research showing that conservatives or right-wingers have bigger amygdalas – the part of the brain that regulates fear and stress. Liberals or left-wingers, on the other hand, were shown to have bigger medial prefrontal cortexes, which suppresses fear. Science Daily now reports about a new article in Current Biology, demonstrating pretty much similarly that differences in political orientation may be tied to differences in brain structure.
Individuals who call themselves liberal tend to have larger anterior cingulate cortexes, while those who call themselves conservative have larger amygdalas. Based on what is known about the functions of those two brain regions, the structural differences are consistent with reports showing a greater ability of liberals to cope with conflicting information and a greater ability of conservatives to recognize a threat, the researchers say.
“Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation,” said Ryota Kanai of the University College London. “Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure.”
Kanai said his study was prompted by reports from others showing greater anterior cingulate cortex response to conflicting information among liberals. “That was the first neuroscientific evidence for biological differences between liberals and conservatives,” he explained.
There had also been many prior psychological reports showing that conservatives are more sensitive to threat or anxiety in the face of uncertainty, while liberals tend to be more open to new experiences. Kanai’s team suspected that such fundamental differences in personality might show up in the brain.
Pretty much ties in with what you already know about people from certain political persuasions, eh? In my experience it does, at least.
Some caveats though. First, the liberal-conservative divide is very much an Anglo-American construct. While I believe that - in terms of attitudes at least – it corresponds by and large to the ‘left’ and ‘right’-wing divide in continental Europe (which, despite nuances, pretty much exists, let’s be honest), it’s not exactly the same. Where does socialism fit the bill, for example? I may describe myself as left-wing, but definitely not as a socialist, while some other left-wingers would. The difference between us is probably how we value the role of the state in society and believe in the necessity of material equality. But how could that be fitted in the fear/non-fear conservative-liberal divide described above?
Secondly, and most obviously, there’s the question to what extent upbringing and life experiences play a part in determining political attitude (and may perhaps even affect brain structure).
Interesting research though. It may explain why, even though you know and like someone very well, you still can’t get exactly to the bottom of why that person has different attitudes about something. Trying to explain that in terms of character traits can, I think, deliver interesting results.
If you’re ready for some puking in the morning, Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald provides an overview of the response of rightwing American media and pundits to the whole WikiLeaks affair.
First we have the group demanding that Julian Assange be murdered without any charges, trial or due process. There was Sarah Palin on on Twitter illiterately accusing WikiLeaks — a stateless group run by an Australian citizen — of “treason”; she thereafter took to her Facebook page to object that Julian Assange was “not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders” (she also lied by stating that he has “blood on his hands”: a claim which even the Pentagon admits is untrue). Townhall’s John Hawkins has a column this morning entitled ”5 Reasons The CIA Should Have Already Killed Julian Assange.” That Assange should be treated as a “traitor” and murdered with no due process has been strongly suggested if not outright urged by the likes of Marc Thiessen, Seth Lipsky (with Jeffrey Goldberg posting Lipsky’s column and also illiterately accusing Assange of “treason”), Jonah Goldberg, Rep. Pete King, and, today, The Wall Street Journal.
That column “5 Reasons The CIA Should Already Have Killed Julian Assange” can be found here.
Unsurprisingly, since we haven’t treated the problem seriously, it has gotten worse. Julian Assange at Wikileaks has released massive amounts of classified data. Some of it is embarrassing. Some of it is very sensitive. Some of it could have political ramifications for our friends around the world, and worst of all, some of it could lead to the deaths of people who’ve risked their lives to help America. That’s the first reason why the CIA should have already killed Julian Assange.
1) Julian Assange aided the Taliban and risked the lives of Afghans who helped American forces.
2) Killing Julian Assange would send a message: Julian Assange is not an American citizen and he has no constitutional rights. So, there’s no reason that the CIA can’t kill him. Moreover, ask yourself a simple question: If Julian Assange is shot in the head tomorrow or if his car is blown up when he turns the key, what message do you think that would send about releasing sensitive American data? Do you think there would be any more classified American information showing up on Wikileaks?
3) You can’t run a government without secrets.
4) Releasing the information to the world is even worse than giving it to a single foreign government.
5) We need to regain the confidence of our allies who’ve been burned by these leaks.
Well, they’re probably going to have their way, as I wouldn’t wage any bets on the lifespan of Julian Assange – who has already announced that Russia and big corporations are next. Either that, or he’ll be arrested by Interpol.
Do that, and you make him a martyr.
- Update: Mark adds another shocking example, showing that this kind of reasoning is not confined to the U.S.
This clip shows Tom Flanagan – the former chief of staff to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Howard of the Conservative Party of Canada and Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary – also suggesting that the United States should assassinate Assange on the CBC. Flanagan seems to be advocating a special version of masculinity whereby your toughness is associated with appearing on television advocating that someone else ‘man up’ (as if the suggestion that the rule of law be tossed out the window is not deranged enough).
A surprising analysis by Thomas Chatterton Williams, who argues on The Root that hip hop is conservative. It made me concur for a few minutes, but thinking about it, I don’t think this analysis holds true. Hip hop in the 1980s could hardly be called “conservative” in the sense of traditionalist (which is what conservatism, in the end, entails, whether in its elite or in its populist form); it was something from the street, something from an excluded part of the population celebrating its otherness, a new cultural expression too, and therefore by default not conservative. Today’s hip hop is indeed about being nihilistically rich, violent and misogynistic, but that’s more to express that street hardship has been overcome (I think). Conservative? I don’t know.
[The] irony here is that mainstream hip-hop culture itself is overwhelmingly conservative by nature, a gangsta party that in more ways than one looks a lot like a Tea Party. What the commentators on both the right and the left fail to realize is that on many social and cultural issues that matter, the message coming out of hip-hop is decidedly right of center.
It’s not just that hip-hop is, to put the matter mildly, pro-gun rights (most mainstream rappers could be on the NRA’s payroll), atavistically homophobic (Byron Hurt documented this convincingly in Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, where even a “conscious” rapper like Talib Kweli is unwilling to go against the anti-gay grain) and spectacularly patriarchal (male-female inequality has always been the law of the hip-hop nation) — it is also unquestioningly God-fearing and, not infrequently, proselytizing.
Calling him “a problem, not a solution”, Charlemagne’s Economist article is primarily aimed at discussing the current hate speech vs. freedom of speech trial against Geert Wilders. Much of the background will be known to regular readers of this blog, and for those linking through, the article was written prior to the dismissal of the charges against Wilders. Nonetheless much of the article is written as discussion of Wilders towards the ultimate focus of the article: considering strategies to deal with far right candidates (far right at least on issues with regards to immigration, visible minorities and Islam).
Even more importantly, [Wilders] has become the political kingmaker. His party came third in June’s general election, winning 15% of the vote, and will now prop up a minority government of the liberal VVD with the centre-right Christian Democrats. In exchange, Mr Wilders has secured the promise of tighter immigration rules, a ban on some Islamic garb and more money for care of the elderly. Newspapers are calling this the “Wilders 1” government.
Mr Wilders’s party is only one of many anti-immigrant and anti-Islam groups that are gaining ground in northern European countries previously known for their liberal social attitudes. The Dutch coalition deal was copied from Denmark, where the Danish People’s Party has backed a minority government since 2001. In Sweden’s recent election the far-right Sweden Democrats won seats for the first time, denying Fredrik Reinfeldt, the prime minister, a centre-right majority (he is now running a minority government). These parties, all with their own special characteristics, are distinct from older far-right groups such as France’s National Front and Italy’s Northern League, and have still less to do with thuggish movements in eastern Europe. But a common theme is a dislike of foreigners, especially Muslims.
A big question is whether Germany, the European country most inoculated from right-wing extremism, may be next. There have been stirrings of late, such as the sacking from the board of the Bundesbank of Thilo Sarrazin, a former Social Democratic politician, who published a book saying Muslim migrants were making Germany “more stupid”. Enter the inevitable Mr Wilders. He was in Berlin earlier this month to launch a new party called Die Freiheit (“Freedom”), founded by René Stadtkewitz, formerly a member of the Berlin branch of the Christian Democrats. To cheers, Mr Wilders declared that Germans, too, needed to defend their identity against Islamisation.
Mr Wilders should not be underestimated. By identifying the enemy as Islam and not foreigners, and by casting his rhetoric in terms of freedom rather than race, he becomes harder to label as a reactionary, racist or neo-Nazi. Mr Wilders does not want to associate with the fascist sort. He has no truck with anti-Semitism and fervently supports Israel. He is, for want of a better term, a radical liberal: he defends women’s emancipation and gay rights. He is fighting to defend the West’s liberties; the enemy is Islam (not Muslims, he says), which seeks, violently, to destroy them.
Such views chime with some American conservatives.
And what should we do about Wilders and the like?
What should democratic parties do when lots of voters back a far-right party? At a time of recession, populism cannot just be wished away. One answer is to address legitimate grievances about the scale and nature of immigration. (In France Nicolas Sarkozy has, controversially, pinched far-right rhetoric.) Another is to use the law to curb blatant examples of hate speech.
But the temptation for many is to isolate the extremists, perhaps with an alliance of mainstream left and right. That risks intensifying voters’ sense that politicians are not listening to them, further boosting the extremists, but it may be necessary against the most odious groups. Some, like Mr Reinfeldt in Sweden, may try to ignore the far right. More stable would be a Dutch-style deal to secure their backing for a minority government; some Christian Democrats hope this will tame the wilder side of Mr Wilders. The danger is that it just gives him power without responsibility—and without forcing him to recant outrageous positions.
A better, braver strategy, in some cases, might be to bring far-right leaders into the cabinet, exposing their ideas to reality and their personalities to the public gaze. It may make for tetchy government, but it could also moderate the extremes. So roll the dice and make Mr Wilders foreign minister: for how long could he keep telling the world to ban the Koran?
I am not sure I am convinced by this approach, though I don’t want to dismiss it out of hand either. The crux is: does the exposure that comes from actually being in cabinet actually moderate someone like Wilders or does it lend him legitimacy. On one hand, I tend to think the latter. On the other, I think two points are worth considering. First, as per the article, I do think that the longer Wilders is kept on the sidelines the more strident his supporters will become. Second, had Wilders had to explain, defend, negotiate and (hopefully) amend his immigraton policies in parliament and in public as a Minister, I am hopeful it would have taken some wind out of his sails. There are no definitely no easy answers here I am afraid.
Not a surprising find, but its good to have it out in the open again: the current Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts is the most conservative in decades, possibly ever. And with Obama’s choice for nominations, that is not likely to change. So here see the direction in which the US is headed.
When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his colleagues on the Supreme Court left for their summer break at the end of June, they marked a milestone: the Roberts court had just completed its fifth term.
In those five years, the court not only moved to the right but also became the most conservative one in living memory, based on an analysis of four sets of political science data.
And for all the public debate about the confirmation of Elena Kagan or the addition last year of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, there is no reason to think they will make a difference in the court’s ideological balance. Indeed, the data show that only one recent replacement altered its direction, that of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, pulling the court to the right.
There is no similar switch on the horizon. That means that Chief Justice Roberts, 55, is settling in for what is likely to be a very long tenure at the head of a court that seems to be entering a period of stability.
If the Roberts court continues on the course suggested by its first five years, it is likely to allow a greater role for religion in public life, to permit more participation by unions and corporations in elections and to elaborate further on the scope of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Abortion rights are likely to be curtailed, as are affirmative action and protections for people accused of crimes.
The recent shift to the right is modest. And the court’s decisions have hardly been uniformly conservative. The justices have, for instance, limited the use of the death penalty and rejected broad claims of executive power in the government’s efforts to combat terrorism.
But scholars who look at overall trends rather than individual decisions say that widely accepted political science data tell an unmistakable story about a notably conservative court.
Almost all judicial decisions, they say, can be assigned an ideological value. Those favoring, say, prosecutors and employers are said to be conservative, while those favoring criminal defendants and people claiming discrimination are said to be liberal.
Analyses of databases coding Supreme Court decisions and justices’ votes along these lines, one going back to 1953 and another to 1937, show that the Roberts court has staked out territory to the right of the two conservative courts that immediately preceded it by four distinct measures:
In its first five years, the Roberts court issued conservative decisions 58 percent of the time. And in the term ending a year ago, the rate rose to 65 percent, the highest number in any year since at least 1953.
The courts led by Chief Justices Warren E. Burger, from 1969 to 1986, and William H. Rehnquist, from 1986 to 2005, issued conservative decisions at an almost indistinguishable rate — 55 percent of the time.
That was a sharp break from the court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, from 1953 to 1969, in what liberals consider the Supreme Court’s golden age and conservatives portray as the height of inappropriate judicial meddling. That court issued conservative decisions 34 percent of the time.
Four of the six most conservative justices of the 44 who have sat on the court since 1937 are serving now: Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Antonin Scalia and, most conservative of all, Clarence Thomas. (The other two were Chief Justices Burger and Rehnquist.) Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the swing justice on the current court, is in the top 10.
The Roberts court is finding laws unconstitutional and reversing precedent — two measures of activism — no more often than earlier courts. But the ideological direction of the court’s activism has undergone a marked change toward conservative results.
In judging this nomination, it is important to remember who is being replaced. Justice John Paul Stevens, although nominated by President Ford, was a member of the “liberal wing” of the Supreme Court. That meant that in the years of the Bush administrations he did not support the relentless growth of executive power, and was a staunch supporter of civil liberties. On this he was a crucial vote, and if any new cases on these matters come up (and they will, in the coming years), Elena Kagan will be this crucial vote.
I always thought that Barack Obama was elected as a rejection of the Bush-Cheney approach to the “War” on Terror, America’s stance in the world, and the growth of a state in which the rule of law is subjected to the demands of executive power. By now it is clear that this is not what he is; rather, he’s a moderate-to-conservative president who is afraid to show leadership on crucial issues of rights and liberties, and is eager to appease the most radical conservative of Republicans in order to retain his “postpartisan” and “pragmatic” crafted image.
I’d say that the nomination of Kagan fits into this evolution of the Obama administration, although I’ve backtracked a little. Basically, she’s not as good as Diane Wood on the issue of executive power versus civil liberties, but she’s more of a blank slate. Nobody – Democrats nor Republicans – knows what her views on a host of matters are. So that’s worrisome in itself, and as Greenwald mentions, it shows the personality cult that among a lot of progressives and liberals still surrounds Barack Obama (we just have to trust that he’s right about this). Therefore we get NYT articles that say that he was not looking for a “liberal firebrand”, that he is taking “the middle of the road”, and so forth.
So, to compare what could have been with what we now get, see this comparative profile by Charlie Savage of Diane Wood and Elena Kagan:
Of the three, Judge Wood, of the appeals court in Chicago, has the clearest record in favor of protecting civil liberties and taking a skeptical stance toward executive power. In a 2003 essay, she spoke out against approaches to counterterrorism that she said posed “a significant threat to the continued observance of the rule of law” — like giving noncitizens fewer due process rights than citizens and sacrificing individual privacy to foster intelligence-gathering.
“In a democracy, those responsible for national security (principally, of course, the executive branch) must do more than say, ‘trust us, we know best’ when they are proposing significant intrusions on liberties protected by the Constitution,” Judge Wood wrote.
And in a 2008 essay, Judge Wood wrote that “the principle is well established that extraordinary tribunals, such as military commissions, are not authorized to operate if the normal courts are open for business.”
That stance could put Judge Wood at odds with the Obama administration, which is using military commissions instead of civilian trials for some terrorism suspects. However, her remark came in the context of prosecuting civilian citizens arrested on domestic soil after a natural disaster, and might not extend to noncitizens arrested abroad and accused of being enemy fighters.
Ms. Kagan (…) has a mixed record on executive powers, but one that suggests she might generally be more sympathetic toward the White House than Justice Stevens.
And that is based on a 2001 law review article of hers about centralized control over regulatory agencies, but really, we just don’t know.
And then, let’s hear it from civil liberties and human rights NGO’s (you know, those exclusively “liberal” and “progressive” causes):
Advocates for human rights and other liberal causes who are upset at the Obama administration for continuing Bush-era policies may take their frustration out on Kagan.
“From the perspective of those who have been advocating change from Bush policies, she has been a disappointment,” said Tina Foster of the International Justice Network, who argued against Kagan’s deputy Neal Katyal over detention policies in an appeal in January.
“She would spell very bad news” if she became a Supreme Court justice, said Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has long challenged Bush and now Obama detention policies. “We don’t see any basis to assume she does not embrace the Bush view of executive power.”
At the Electronic Frontier Foundation, senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston called the Obama administration’s stance on state secrets and national security wiretapping “a grave disappointment, particularly for those who took Obama’s promises seriously.” Bankston cautioned he is not certain how involved Kagan herself has been in the positions the department has taken on these issues.
And finally, check out this call to arms from blogger digby about the reluctance of contemporary Washington DC power brokers (including Obama) to nominate anyone important whom Republicans could view as too “liberal”, and the hypocrisy when it comes to applying the same standards the other way around:
So I’m told by various people that Kagan is the only confirmable possibility. I would love to know why that should be true. The Republicans have had little trouble since Bork confirming far right federalist society clones, whether they had a Democratic or Republican Senate. It doesn’t seem logical to me that there isn’t room for an unabashed liberal on the court with a 59 vote majority in the Senate.
Kagan is an unknown quantity, unlike Roberts and Alito who were clearly both conservative a highly political. Yet Bush managed to get them confirmed. I guess I just don’t understand the double standard when it comes to Democrats and I refuse to capitulate to the common wisdom that says no Democratic president can ever confirm a known liberal.
Moreover, I think Supreme Court confirmation battles are ideologically instructive for the nation and are one of the few times when it’s possible for people to speak at length about their philosophical worldview. Liberals have to stop running from this. Allowing the other side to define us is killing us.
This, I think, is interesting. You might see the Tea Partiers as a bunch of Sarah Palin supporters, thereby equating their views by default with those of her, but the reality is more complex. According to a Politico poll, Tea Partiers are ideologically split between the libertarianism of Ron Paul, and the traditionalist conservatism of Palin. And overall, they seem to care more about what they perceive as the economic intrusions of the government, than about moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Although the average view of Tea Partiers on these matters is, of course, still ridiculously conservative.
Tea party activists are divided roughly into two camps, according to a new POLITICO/TargetPoint poll: one that’s libertarian-minded and largely indifferent to hot-button values issues and another that’s culturally conservative and equally concerned about social and fiscal issues.
The results, however, suggest a distinct fault line that runs through the tea party activist base, characterized by two wings led by the politicians who ranked highest when respondents were asked who “best exemplifies the goals of the tea party movement” — former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a former GOP presidential candidate.
Palin, who topped the list with 15 percent, speaks for the 43 percent of those polled expressing the distinctly conservative view that government does too much, while also saying that it needs to promote traditional values.
Paul’s thinking is reflected by an almost identical 42 percent who said government does too much but should not try to promote any particular set of values — the hallmarks of libertarians. He came in second to Palin with 12 percent.
Asked to rate their level of anger about 22 issues on a scale of one (not angry at all) to five (extremely angry), the issue that drew the most anger: the growing national debt. The least: courts granting same-sex couples the right to marry. Twenty-four percent said they’re “not at all” upset about gay marriage.
While 73 percent are extremely angry about government intrusion into personal lives, only 48 percent express the same sentiment about “the moral direction of the country.” For instance, only 50 percent of the tea partiers overall said they’re extremely angry about the number of abortions performed each year (16th of 22). That’s less than the proportion extremely angry about bailouts, earmarks and frivolous lawsuits.
Specifically, 51 percent of tea party activists say “government should not promote any particular set of values,” while 46 percent said “government should promote traditional family values in our society.” Compare this to national Gallup Polls, which recently found 67 percent of self-identified Republicans think government should promote such values
Something that everybody already knew, of course, but it’s nice to have it scientifically confirmed. These are the results of a massive, long-term study among 20,000 people by evolutionary psychologist Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics (LSE), to be published next month. To spell it out in Dutch, for you conservatives out there: linkse mensen zijn intelligenter dan rechtse mensen. What’s interesting, though, is the theory behind it.
Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence, a new study finds.Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.
Kanazawa’s paper shows that more-intelligent people are more likely to say they are liberal. They are also less likely to say they go to religious services. These aren’t entirely new findings; last year, for example, a British team found that kids with higher intelligence scores were more likely to grow into adults who vote for Liberal Democrats, even after the researchers controlled for socioeconomics. What’s new in Kanazawa’s paper is a provocative theory about why intelligence might correlate with liberalism. He argues that smarter people are more willing to espouse “evolutionarily novel” values — that is, values that did not exist in our ancestral environment, including weird ideas about, say, helping genetically unrelated strangers (liberalism, as Kanazawa defines it), which never would have occurred to us back when we had to hunt to feed our own clan and our only real technology was fire.
So are liberals smarter? Kanazawa quotes from two surveys that support the hypothesis that liberals are more intelligent. One is the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which is often called Add Health. The other is the General Social Survey (GSS). The Add Health study shows that the mean IQ of adolescents who identify themselves as “very liberal” is 106, compared with a mean IQ of 95 for those calling themselves “very conservative.” The Add Health study is huge — more than 20,000 kids — and this difference is highly statistically significant.
One caveat: it might be that more intelligent people say they’re liberal, because that might be a socially desirable answer. Whether you find that a convincing alternative explanation is up to you.
In the past forty years, the Republican Party has become increasingly conservative – if you can call a party that is largely based on fundamentalist Christianism, an espousal of unitary executive power and torture “conservative”. Currently, the Obama landslide notwithstanding, the GOP is doing very well in the polls, and is bound to retake the Congress at the end of this year. The primary candidate for leadership of their party, and possibly the presidency, is a woman who really defies all boundaries in conservative radicalism, wallowing in a Biblical appeal of martyrdom, premillennial dispensationalism and an utterly hollow free market, small state “agenda” – Sarah Palin.
The demographics, nevertheless, are against this type of conservatism. In every survey, it turns out that the youngest generation of voters to enter the political arena – the so-called “Millennial Generation”, born roughly between 1980 and 1995 – are very much predisposed against the kind of politics that the GOP espouses. This can be seen, for example, in the overwhelming support for gay marriage amongst the younger cohorts of American voters. Millennials tend to be progressive on a range of social, cultural and political issues. What’s more, among every age group younger than 65, the Republican Party trails behind. So the question is: when are these dynamics actually going to affect the GOP?
Pew released a survey on Thursday showing that Millennials have soured a bit on Democrats in the last year. Despite this, they remain the one age group with 50%+ Democratic party ID and the one age group in which 50%+ say they will vote Democratic this fall. The percentage of self-identifying conservatives among Millennials is basically equal with that of self-identifying liberals (28% vs. 29%). The youngest generation of voters is unusually ill-disposed towards movement conservatism of the sort on display at CPAC, which is the event Gardiner hails not only as proof that conservatism is the future but as an “intellectually vibrant” gathering.
Gardiner can believe what he wants, but the evidence we have available right now suggests that conservatism is losing, indeed has already lost, most of the next generation, and that conservatism as we know it today is going to keep losing ground in the future. It is possible that something could happen in the next few years that could change that significantly, but typically once a cohort attaches itself to one party or the other its later voting habits become fairly predictable. The generation that came of age during the Bush years and overwhelmingly backed Obama is not going to become receptive to movement conservatism.
On average, Millennials’ underlying social and political views put them well to the left of their elders. If you dig into the full report, you will see that the recent Republican resurgence owes almost everything to the dramatic shift among members of the so-called “Silent Generation,” whose voting preferences on the generic ballot have gone from being 49-41 Democrat in 2006 to 48-39 Republican for 2010. There have been small shifts in other age groups toward the Republicans, but by far it is the alienation of voters aged 65-82 that has been most damaging to the Democrats’ political strength*. As we all know, these are the voters who are far more likely to turn out than Millennials, which is why Democratic prospects for this election seem as bad as they do even though the Pew survey says that Democrats lead on the generic ballot in every other age group. Among Boomers, Democrats lead 46-42, and among Gen Xers they barely lead 45-44. In other words, the main reason why the GOP is enjoying any sort of political recovery is that many elderly voters have changed their partisan preferences since the last midterm. Republicans remain behind among all voters younger than 65. That does not seem to herald the future revival of movement conservatism of the sort Gardiner is so embarrassingly praising.